As our country continues to struggle through these challenging economic times, we see the impacts of reduced budgets, tightened belts, and changing policy all around us. Especially in Michigan, our essential public services — schools, libraries, government offices — seem to be in a constant state of flux with no clear vision of what their future may hold.
According to a recent report from Education Week, Michigan’s schools rank 24th in the nation — only slightly above the national average. Last year, Michigan libraries received only an average of $0.91 per capita, compared to the $2.94 national average. Both schools and libraries rely on state budgets to determine their funding, and ultimately, their future. With over 1.5 million students enrolled in Michigan K-12 public schools and over 56 million visits to our public libraries in 2012, it is clear that the future of our public resources also represent the future of our state.
While there are many factors that impact the quality of our public services, one thing is certain: all are at the mercy of the budget set by Michigan’s legislative body. No matter what side of the political fence you’re on, we are all tied to the successes and failures
of these institutions. It is our responsibility as voters to take a vested interest in how
they work, why they work, and how we can work to make them better going
forward. In the following section, we hope to examine both the cause, and potential impact, of the budgetary issues that face our great state and the essential services it provides to all of us.
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